“Yankee Tavern” Review – Conspirators Under Every Rock


Struggling with seasonal allergies, Ray (Richard Cotovsky), a loveable quasi-hobo character who is the most regular of regulars at downtown Manhattan’s Yankee Tavern, explains that there is only one spore that is responsible for most of the allergy medicine sales in the world.  He wants to know both what the makers of Kleenex knew about this and when.  “Cui bono?” (Who Benefits?), he explains to trusting and patient Janet (Darci Nalepa).  According to Ray this is the principal question to ask if you want the key to everything. 


Allergies are a tangent to the main whodunit topic that Ray and other Yankee Tavern habitués are concerned about—9/11.



If you come to this play already with the belief that 9/11 was a hoax perpetrated on the American public then this is your play of the year, without doubt.  If you entertain ideas like Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman then this is probably going to hit your sweetest of sweet spots too. 


For the rest of us who may factor in things like incompetence as a greater explainer of world events instead of conspiracy theories, this is nonetheless a little gem of a script.  Alas, the half-life of this script’s relevance is perhaps nearing.  Since its world premiere in 2009, eight years after 9/11, we’ve seen falling oil prices, the second term of a President who was elected in no small part because of the disaster of Bush’s Iraq War, and other real-world events that would seemingly juggle the answer to “Cui bono”.



That said, playwright Steven Dietz has given us a script that delights in playing with your stereotype of thinking all who see conspiracies are borderline or not so borderline crackpots.  Even though he’s toying with you it is fun.  Yet, if you are very bored or totally put off by conspiracy talk then do yourself a favor and avoid this play like the plague.



American Blues Theater, starting with the most realistic set of a bar seen in memory, gives this script at top-notch production that helps to boost its appeal.




The four-member cast—Richard Cotovsky as Ray, Ian Paul Custer as Adam, Steve Key as Palmer, and Darci Nalepa as Janet—all give their parts their due. 


Running now through March 22 at the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.


For tickets call 773 404 7336 or visit the American Blues Theater website.




Photos:  Johnny Knight









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